BuzzFeed Sells Complex to Commerce Platform Ntwrk for $108.6 Million

Growing commerce platform Ntwrk has acquired Complex from BuzzFeed for $108.6 million in a merger intended to “define the future of commerce, digital media and music.”

In addition to the all-cash purchase price, BuzzFeed received approximately $5.7 million related to the use of the company’s New York offices and severance, as well as other employment-related costs.

BuzzFeed also announced a workforce reduction of 16%, expected to save the company approximately $23 million in annualized compensation.

Ntwrk is a digital platform that includes live video shopping features and a curated marketplace for buyers and sellers alike. The acquisition will combine the e-commerce platform, which is centered around streetwear and music, with Complex, which has been developed as a hub of culture and content.

In October, The New York Times reported that BuzzFeed was engaged in advanced discussions to sell Complex. BuzzFeed initially acquired Complex just over two years ago for nearly $300 million.

When BuzzFeed went public, the focus of its pitch to investors included Complex Networks, which were consistently profitable. Since then, BuzzFeed has shuttered its news division, laid off many staffers and is seeking solutions in AI technology.

“The sale of Complex represents an important strategic step for BuzzFeed, Inc. as we adapt our business to be more profitable, more nimble, and more innovative,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said in a statement. “This is also an opportunity to unlock greater value for the Complex brand by combining it with NTWRK’s expansive, commerce-driven business.”

Meanwhile, Ntwrk is continuing to expand in the U.S. The merged brands will be led by Ntwrk co-founder Aaron Levant, who has served as the company’s CEO since its launch.

“Complex has been a beacon of culture and innovation for over two decades,” Levant said in a statement. “My journey with Complex began as an admirer of their original magazine in 2002 and it has now come full circle as I step into the leadership role. Alongside this impressive team, we will create the definitive global content, commerce and experiential platform of convergence culture.”

In partnership with Universal Music Group, the new platform will offer opportunities for both music fans and artists. Interscope Geffen A&M and Capitol Music Group will be the first UMG labels to collaborate with the merged platform in an effort to deliver unique experiences and exclusive collaborations.

“This partnership will give our artists access to a dynamic network to deepen connections with superfans through unique collaborations and cultural moments,” Chairman and CEO of IGA John Janick said in a statement. “We share a collective vision on how D2C, experiential, brand partnerships and content are mutually reinforcing cornerstones of the fan experience. We will continue to sign and elevate new generations of great talent and we believe that we can best serve these artists through a holistic set of capabilities.”

Other investors in the acquisition include Main Street Advisors, Jimmy Iovine, Universal Music Group and Goldman Sachs.

“Aaron — along with Jamie and Gaston — is building an incredible platform and this acquisition will exponentially accelerate its growth,” Iovine, the founder of Interscope Records, said in a statement. “Combining the power and reach of Complex with the Ntwrk engine serving creators across music, fashion and art will be transformative for the next generation of consumer technology.”

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